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Edmonton residents calling for dangerous knife sale restrictions speak at city hall

Click to play video: 'Edmonton residents calling for dangerous knife sales to be restricted speak at city hall'
Edmonton residents calling for dangerous knife sales to be restricted speak at city hall
Some community groups in central Edmonton joined forces with police at City Hall, urging council to prohibit the sale of dangerous knives in places like convenience and corner stores. Sarah Ryan reports – Apr 9, 2024

Edmonton residents joined forces with police at City Hall on Tuesday, urging council to take action to prohibit the sale of dangerous knives in places like convenience and corner stores.

The knives aren’t illegal, but advocates say their curves, double-sided blades, and finger grips are clearly for nefarious purposes.

“These weren’t designed to butter your toast or slice your bread,” explained Allan Bolstad, a former city councillor who is now a board member with the Alberta Avenue Community League.

“No, when you hold these in your hand you realize they’re for one purpose only, and that’s to — when you’re in a fight — kill the other person.”

Bolstad went to a number of convenience stores and took pictures of the knives they have for sale, he feels they’re too accessible.

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The Edmonton Police Service agrees.

“We’re seizing weapons and knives off of kids, and bear spray,” explained Staff Sgt. Michael Keef. “It’s something we have to be looking more at and limiting their access to that.”

EPS joined eight community members in petitioning the urban planning committee on Tuesday.

They say the downtown branch reported a 7.5 per cent increase in knife-related crimes between 2022 and 2023: from 236 up to 255.

In January and February this year, there’s already been 41 knife incidents downtown.

Click to play video: 'Central Edmonton residents call for ban on knife sales at convenience stores'
Central Edmonton residents call for ban on knife sales at convenience stores

Christy Morin is with Arts on the Ave, one of the groups that brought the issue to city hall.

“We would just like to have it restricted, out of the convenience stores altogether,” Morin said.

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Morin, Bolstad and other community advocates want the city to make a new category — called restricted knives — and, as part of their business license, force stores that want to sell them to apply to do so, and then follow stringent safety protocols.

They believe it could work similarly to the sale of guns, restricted to places like hunting stores.

Sales there could require ID, and potentially keep the products hidden from plain view, like cigarettes.

Allan Bolstad and Erick Estrada show a photo of knives they’ve seen for sale in Edmonton convenience stores. Sarah Ryan / Global News

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi agrees with their concerns.

“From my perspective, we should have zero tolerance for lethal weapons that cause harm,” Sohi said.

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On Tuesday afternoon, the committee unanimously passed a motion asking city administration to look at how to best address the problem.

“Right now, we know community members are not feeling safe, we have seen a rise in violence with weapons, in particular,” said Ward Metis Councillor Ashley Salvador.

“Being able to take some decisive action, I think, sends a message to community that this council is taking safety seriously.”

In the past, the Alberta Avenue community has asked individual store owners to stop selling the knives — but even when they were initially pulled, Morin said they ended up back on the shelves not long after.

She feels knife sales are financially lucrative for the store owners and thinks the city needs to step in.

“In my mind, this is a step beyond asking nicely and actually putting some teeth towards this conversation,”  Salvador said.

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